The future of Anthony Bourdain’s excellent, award-winning CNN show Parts Unknown was left in the balance after the chef’s death by suicide in June. Today, CNN announced the series will get one final season, set to air this fall. Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content at CNN and the woman credited with launching Parts Unknown in 2013, spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the network’s plans for the upcoming episodes.
Bourdain died in France while in the middle of filming the upcoming season of the show, and only one episode was totally finished by the time he died. That hour centers around a trip to Kenya with United Shades of America’s W. Kamau Bell. It will be the last episode to feature Bourdain’s signature narration, which was written by him. However, there is enough footage to complete four other travel installments, which will be set in New York City’s Lower East Side, the Big Bend area of Texas near Mexico, the Asturias region in Spain, and Indonesia. These episodes will use on-location footage and audio of Bourdain, but subsequent follow-up interviews will not.
“Each one will feel slightly different depending on what’s gathered in the field,” Entelis said. “They will have the full presence of Tony because you’ll see him, you’ll hear him, you’ll watch him. That layer of his narration will be missing, but it will be replaced by other voices of people who are in the episodes.”
The season will then take a turn away from its traditional format of one location per episode before it takes a final bow. The penultimate hour will focus on the making of the series, including interviews with the cast and crew as well as outtakes and behind the scenes footage. The season finale, on the other hand, will look outwards and focus on how Bourdain’s “affected the world,” as Entelis put it. This will be illustrated with fan reactions and interviews from friends of the chef who appeared on the CNN show throughout its 11 seasons. Bourdain’s impact was widely felt after his death, both throughout the halls of CNN and the world at large, a testament to the chef’s charm and ability to connect with viewers.
“People said, ‘I was afraid to travel before I watched the show,’ ‘I followed his route,’ ‘I was an addict and I connected with Tony and now I’m fine,’” Entelis said. “Others were angry that he’s not in the world any more. It’s an incredible outpouring. A lot of people are experiencing what we are.”